Patina or “Platinum”?

Erik Ralbovský
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Barn find. The charm, the chimera of each person that is crazy about cars. Sometimes one feels that the barns are around just to hide beneath its straw stacks more and more Mercedes 300SL’s or the hitherto unrecognised creation of the Figoni & Falaschi’s body shop, the unique Bugatti, the Leonardo da Vinci helicopter, or even grandfather’s Peugeot 205GTi imported from the German Empire right after the velvet revolution. Indeed, who would hold themselves back should something fall into their lap in such a way. The truth is that articles about similar findings are extremely popular today. I click on them too. Always. Often even repeatedly. Always repeatedly. I have to admit that.


But I often wonder how an insignificant percentage of those gems can live the way its designers planned it. The situation after the discovery is almost always like through a photocopier: take the junk out of the garage / barn / cellar / bunker / forest, where it grew into the countryside, take a camera, pop it on YouTube, call the guys from Sotheby’s, get it restored to such a state it has never even been in before and get it on a rug to Zaha Hadid’s villa, and if I want to show myself as an enthusiast, I take the car for a spin a few times a year. At Pebble Beach, at Concorso, or I’ll show up at Mille.


Cars are no longer just means of transport; even the sticker “status symbol” is no longer enough. Because of fools like us, with the unmistakable ‘need to put the rescue brake on’ standing against us before the ecosystem finally collapses, cars are an investment commodity. Perhaps out of fear that motoring as we know it will only be a chapter as relevant as the “Century of Steam”, are the prices of veterans and any interesting or objectively bad, but nostalgically important cars, stretched to such an extent that high renovation cost usually pays off. For the time being.


A handy renovator can extend your car’s life for decades. It makes it a legacy, a family heritage, or a source of an interesting sum if it attracts interest at an auction, but … There are instances where a car is part of a family history. A piece owned by that “crazy grandmother’s cousin”, a man who loved the car and, while he was well, cared for it, enjoyed it. And you vaguely remember how, at just 4 years old, you first heard the Ferrucia’s V12 and watched uncomprehendingly how something so beautiful could stand next to your parents’ boring box and still belong to the same “car” category.

Grandmother’s cousin got old, one day the garage door closed for good, and for one last time the exhaust had cooled off. After 40 years, the car falls into the lap of someone who neither dates Irina Shayik or built a multi-million startup in the evenings or has three names on the family coat of arms. He was the only one in the family who was crazy about cars, so fortunately no one knew the value of the nonsense standing in the garage. A fairytale? Does this not happen? In fact, this is a story one Miura in the US can tell. How to deal with something like this? Renovate? Polish and sell? Sell ​​”as is” and buy a new Camaro, house and send your kid to Harvard?

When I imagine myself in a similar situation (I am still desperately looking for the forgotten uncle who has been collecting cars all his life and wants to pass it on), the owner’s attitude in this particular situation appeals to me.

The car did not become “platinum”, did not end up in an auction, not even with a renovator. It has just been cleaned up, put into operation and is run by a man who himself says that the greatest pleasure is to share the car at various events. He purposely kept Miura in the condition she was riding in before the “outage” because his owner enjoyed to to take it for a drive, daily.


These are not scratches, but wrinkles that add beauty and elegance. We do not tend to send our grandmother to have a cosmetic surgery done to erase the lines that life has given her. These wrinkles have wisdom and natural authority. And so do cars. Mine also went through phases where at first it was a brand new fast sedan “for an architect”, then a luxury used car for high hundreds of thousands, then a long-time car for the hobbyist who still considers it the best car he has ever had. This was followed by a phase of long-term parking under a chestnut tree, some parking scars, and finally ended up with me. Each of these phases is indelibly written into the condition it is in now. Its 250hp estimate still strives for my driving license, “battle scars” make it a more usable car than if it were a garage polish and still raises thumbs when I meet owners of similar pieces on the road.


I mean, as long as we can, before motoring becomes a crime, before we have to shut all of our tin joys into our garages one last time, let’s go for a ride. Take the car you worked so hard for, the car you promised yourself at the age of 6, and 40 years later you really held its keys in your hands and didn’t believe it was really yours. The car you “nursed” in the evenings in the garage, or your “barn find”, or perhaps what you bought at an auction. With that in mind, that is surely how Tjaarda, Gandini, Fioravanti, Zagato, Pininfarina, Sacco or Horbury designed it, no? Meet me on the road?